Sydney (AFP) – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday he had not contemplated stepping down, as pressure mounted on his leadership following a controversial decision to make Britain’s Prince Philip a knight.
Abbott faced ridicule after naming the nonagenarian consort of Queen Elizabeth II a knight of the Order of Australia last month, incensing members of his ruling coalition who were already dealing with falling poll numbers, policy backflips and an unpopular budget.
When asked by reporters if he had considered resigning, Abbott said “no” – but admitted: “I accept that I probably overdid it on awards.”
“I have listened, I have learnt, I have acted…” he said, in reference to the adverse public reaction.
The honour for Prince Philip bemused Australians, many of whom want to cut ties with the British monarchy and become a republic. The media dubbed the award for the non-resident a “knightmare” for Abbott.
Abbott insisted he was the right person to lead the government, after reports that some colleagues were under pressure to challenge him.
“Let me make it absolutely crystal clear, we were elected in 2013 because the Australian people rejected chaos. And we are not going to take them back to that chaos,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra.